Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

September 20, 1977

About the Act

The Act creates guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct business, defines rights of consumers involved with debt collectors, and prescribes penalties and remedies for violations of the Act.

Example of Prohibited Conduct

Hours for phone contact: contacting consumers by telephone outside of the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time

Failure to cease communication upon request: communicating with consumers in any way (other than litigation) after receiving written notice that said consumer wishes no further communication or refuses to pay the alleged debt, with certain exceptions, including advising that collection efforts are being terminated or that the collector intends to file a lawsuit or pursue other remedies where permitted

Abusive or profane language: used in the course of communication related to the debt

Misrepresentation or deceit: misrepresenting the debt or using deception to collect the debt, including a debt collector's misrepresentation that he or she is an attorney or law enforcement officer

Required Conduct

Identify themselves and notify the consumer, in every communication, that the communication is from a debt collector, and in the initial communication that any information obtained will be used to effect collection of the debt

Give the name and address of the original creditor upon the consumer's written request made within 30 days of receipt of the notice

Notify the consumer of their right to dispute the debt, in part or in full, with the debt collector.

Provide verification of the debt: If a consumer sends a written dispute or request for verification within 30 days of receiving the notice, then the debt collector must either mail the consumer the requested verification information or cease collection efforts altogether.

File a lawsuit in a proper venue: If a debt collector chooses to file a lawsuit, it may only be in a place where the consumer lives or signed the contract